Wednesday 17 November 2021

Book Review: The Georgians by Penelope J. Corfield (Non-Fiction / History)

Title: The Georgians
Author: Penelope J. Corfield
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 8 February 2022
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction / History
Source: ARC via NetGalley

A comprehensive history of the Georgians, comparing past views of these exciting, turbulent, and controversial times with our attitudes today.

The Georgian era is often seen as a time of innovations. It saw the end of monarchical absolutism, global exploration and settlements overseas, the world’s first industrial revolution, deep transformations in religious and cultural life, and Britain’s role in the international trade in enslaved Africans. But how were these changes perceived by people at the time? And how do their viewpoints compare with attitudes today?
In this wide-ranging history, Penelope J. Corfield explores every aspect of Georgian life—politics and empire, culture and society, love and violence, religion and science, industry and towns. People’s responses at the time were often divided. Pessimists saw loss and decline, while optimists saw improvements and light. Out of such tensions came the Georgian culture of both experiment and resistance. Corfield emphasizes those elements of deep continuity that persisted even within major changes, and shows how new developments were challenged if their human consequences proved dire.


Georgian England is one of my favourite historical periods and I have, therefore, already read many texts about the era. What I enjoyed most about Penelope J. Corfield's The Georgians was the different approach she made, compared to other books on the same topic. Rather than just working through by year or theme, commenting on the events and the people from a modern perspective, Corfield focuses on changes and innovations that took place during the period from the point of view of its contemporaries, looking at what people living in that time thought about the world they inhabited, as recorded in novels, essays and diaries/memoirs. Even if you already know a lot about the Georgian period, I recommend anyone interested in that time to check out this book for its fresh approach and outlook. I still learnt something new and was able to take something away from this text despite all my former reading on the subject. For me, this was a 4.5-star read which I will round up to a five.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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